With 20 MLS teams having taken the field in a midweek round of games, we’ll continue diving into the performances of the domestic-based players who are pushing to be a part of Gregg Berhalter’s World Cup squad in Qatar.
With the team already taking the field again on June 1 against Morocco, there is a strong likelihood that the full roster of players for two friendly games and two more subsequent CONCACAF Nations League group-stage contests will be announced either late next week, or immediately following the subsequent weekend’s round of games.
While that that won’t be the definitive, final word on the roster headed to Qatar in just under six months, it will start giving us an idea of which names can probably be trimmed from the list below, and which players have moved into outside contention for a spot.
As always, if you have any tips for excluded players who we should keep our eyes on as the season progresses, leave a note in the comments or drop us an email at email@example.com, and we’ll give them a nod.
The pair of USMNT attackers at FC Dallas continued their strong run of play from whistle to whistle, albeit in a losing effort, in their 2-1 defeat on the road to the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Paul Arriola was a man-of-the-match candidate, scoring the lone goal for Dallas deep into first-half injury time to give them the initial lead. The California native took a total of two shots, set up a trio of chances for teammates Marco Farfan and Jesús Ferreira.
Arriola’s goal was set up by Ferreira, his second assist of the season to go with his league-leading nine scores. Apart from the assist, he took three shots, completed 15 of 22 passing attempts, and set up another early chance for Brandon Servania.
New York City FC’s keeper Sean Johnson kept up his strong run, earning a fourth consecutive shut-out in the team’s 2-0 road win over DC United. Similar to his previous shut-out win over the weekend against Columbus, he was helped along by a stifling performance from NYCFC’s back line, and only needed to make a single save.
In the battle to help fill the shoes of injured USMNT center back starter Miles Robinson, Aaron Long put in a solid performance for the New York Red Bulls, even if their defense was overall leaky in a 3-3 home draw against the Chicago Fire.
Long was perhaps a bit bamboozled by Chris Mueller on Chicago’s opener, however was uninvolved in their second and third scores. Otherwise, he completed 34 of 36 passes, hit five accurate long balls in six attempts, attempted one headed shot from a free kick, win six of eight duels, and only committed a single foul.
On the Chicago side, Gabriel Slonina had an evening to forget, making a major error on NYRB’s second goal for a late Christmas present. His performance is covered in more depth in our U-20 USMNT Pool Performance Tracker.
Cristian Roldan had a solid, if unspectacular performance for Seattle in their 1-0 road victory over the Houston Dynamo. He completed a remarkable 47 of 48 passes while playing the full game at right wing, had seven accurate long-balls from the back in eight attempts, hit three on-target crosses in five tries, created three chances for teammates, however didn’t manage to attempt any shots.
One of the chances created by Roldan was for a tenth-minute headed attempt by fellow USMNT player Jordan Morris which forced the Houston keeper into a save. Apart from that early chance, Morris forced one other save just past the hour mark and completed 24 of 26 passes over 77 minutes at the left wing.
Sporting Kansas City’s 2-1 home win over the Colorado Rapids was likely most remarkable for the four red cards issued in the final minutes of the game. Colorado forward Gyasi Zardes was already watching from the bench by the time the drama started, having been pulled midway through the second half after being largely neutralized by the hosts.
He did assist on the lone Rapids goal, however only managed 19 touches in 64 minutes, completed eight of ten passes, and only attempted one shot, a header from a corner that missed the target.
USMNT starting center back Walker Zimmerman put in his usual dependable 90-minute shift for Nashville SC in their 2-1 home win over CF Montreal. He played in the center of his team’s three-man back line, forced the Montreal keeper into two saves from header attempts following corners, completed 55 of 61 passes, won five of nine duels, made three clearances, and only committed a single foul in the process.
Similarly, Kellyn Acosta was in the thick of the action in Los Angeles FC’s 2-1 home loss against Austin FC. Over 90 minutes in the center of the park, he had 75 total touches, set up five attempts for teammates, took one shot, fired in six accurate crosses in ten attempts, and earned his first yellow card of the season.
San Jose Earthquakes’ forward Jeremy Ebobisse didn’t get onto the scoreboard in their 3-2 victory at home over Portland Timbers, but did perfectly play the role of provider. His pinpointed cross just past the half-hour set up Jackson Yueill’s powerful header for the team’s first goal. While that was his only assist, he did create four other close calls, three of those for national team hopeful and U-20 lock Cade Cowell.
All in all, he impressively completed 100% of his 19 passing attempts, attempted three shots, all of which were blocked by the Timbers defenders, and fired off three accurate long balls in three tries.
Finally, DeAndre Yedlin was given a rest from Miami FC’s starting lineup in their 0-0 draw at the Philadelphia Union, however was called into action three minutes past the hour mark to fill in a right back. During his half-hour on the field, he did little more than to help Miami earn the road point.
Atlanta United (Miles Robinson, Brooks Lennon) and New England Revolution (Matt Turner, Sebastian Lletget) were not active in the midweek round of games.
Moving up: Sean Johnson
Another week, another shut-out. Johnson is making his case as Berhalter’s #3, if not starting to put pressure on Matt Turner and Zack Steffen.
Moving down: Gabriel Slonina
Another tough week for the kid, with a gaffe on Chicago’s second goal that might make the English FA start wondering if he has some unknown ancestors from the island. In the long-run, this is only a rough patch, and he’ll be fine.
Don’t put your phone on silent:
Brandon Vazquez (FC Cincinnati)
Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal)